Lives of the fellows

Frederick John Smith

b.17 August 1857 d.30 April 1919
BA Oxon(1880) BM(1885) DM FRCS(1887) FRCP(1895)

F. J. Smith was born at Castle Donington in Leicestershire, the son of John Smith, surgeon. From Christ’s Hospital he won a mathematical scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated as B.A. in 1880, having read mathematics and natural science. He went on to the London Hospital with the Letheby and entrance science scholarships and took the degree of B.M. in 1885, being awarded the Radcliffe travelling fellowship in the same year. He completed his medical training at Leipzig and Vienna, taking the F.R.C.S. in 1887, and held junior appointments at the London Hospital and St. Andrew’s Hospital, Northampton. He was elected assistant physician to the former in 1891, physician in 1902 and consulting physician in 1918, and lectured, first on medicine, and afterwards on forensic medicine. Smith also served, for varying periods, on the staffs of the Royal Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, the Royal Maternity Charity, the City of London Dispensary, and the National Orthopaedic Hospital. He published Lectures on Medical Jurisprudence in 1900 and edited three editions of Swaine Taylor’s work on the subject, as well as examining on it for Oxford, Leeds and Birmingham Universities.

In spite of his all-round capacity as a physician, Smith never acquired a commensurate private consulting practice. The fault lay, perhaps, in certain marked characteristics that endeared him to many but antagonised others. " F.J.", as he was familiarly called by colleagues and students, was careless in his dress, bluntly outspoken in the face of what he considered humbug, and given to language that was more than Rabelaisian in its lack of conventional refinement. If some of his students were willing to forgive him for being addressed as " young rats ", others were not so tolerant. But he had the merits of straightforwardness and kindliness. Smith was married in 1889. He died at Colyton, Devon.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1919; B.M.J., 1919; Plarr, ii, 312; Al.Oxon., iv, 1313]

(Volume IV, page 382)

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